What To Do If You’re In Cognitive Overload – Insights from the Wilderness #204


What to do if you’re in cognitive overload because your fear of boredom is so great it causes you to frantically fill your minds and life with being busy?

Cognitive OverloadI recently listened to an interesting talk on why boredom moves humans to create, and embrace new experiences. It seems most humans don’t like boredom. But without it, we would not be a very creative species. We would be happy just being content being who we are, yawning, and doing nothing……day after day after day after……..well you get the point.

So boredom is a good thing. Right? It motivates us to grow, to learn, to create, and try new things; anything that will relieve our boredom, challenge, and excite our minds. If the human mind was content with boredom, we would not look very “human”.

Taking Our Discomfort Of Boredom To An Extreme

But what if our discomfort with boredom begins to push us too far in the other direction? What if our fear of boredom is so great it causes us to frantically fill our minds with busy exciting, new, creative, stimulating, challenging, innovative, and distracting things—-just to avoid boredom? What would that feel like?

Unfortunately, I suspect that’s what many of us are unconsciously doing. Our fear of boredom has us living exhausted and stressed lives frantically bouncing from one distraction to another. We are so frightened of boredom we don’t know how to slow down and simply “be”. Even though we hunger for deeper meaning in our lives, we fear slowing down will somehow lead to boredom and depression.

We’ve avoided boredom, but now we suffer from cognitive overload and a lack of meaning in our lives. Our minds are in a state of constant stimulation. News programs. Texting. Emailing. Talking on the phone. Surfing the Internet. Checking the weather. Googling. Face timing. Watching television. Working. Cooking. Mowing lawns. Going out to dinner.

The list of distractions we face in a normal day is endless and overwhelming for many of us. When we get too overwhelmed, we turn to addictions like food or alcohol. Or we go on a vacation so we can be busy doing things we don’t have time to do in our day-to-day life.

The Middle Ground Between Boredom and Cognitive Overload

If your life resonates with the conversation above, simply ask yourself, what would a middle ground between boredom and cognitive overload look like for you? What would that place between frantic busyness and simply “being” feel like? And most importantly, what would you “do” to avoid boredom if you were to actually slow down and experience just “being”?

To answer that important question we need to understand it’s our “ego” that doesn’t want to be bored. Thus the first step toward our “true self”, and the stillness of simply “being”, will require letting go of the tendency we all have to focus on, and obsess about ourselves. Boredom doesn’t frighten our “true self”, it only frightens our “ego self”.

Our ego is endlessly doing whatever it takes to create and strengthen our sense of self-identity. So if we are to be successful in our desire to slow down and experience our “true self”, and the deeper meaning that comes from simply “being”, we need to give our ego something to “do”; something that would give our ego the sense of self identity it needs so badly, “and” keep it from feeling bored.

The Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask Yourself

Years of counseling and life coaching have taught me the best way to accomplish that goal is learning to ask ourselves a couple of simple questions; two questions that will keep our ego from feeling bored, and yet still strengthen our sense of self-identity while we are sitting with ourselves and simply “being”.

  • Question #1 – What is it that gives deep meaning to your life? Why are you here? What did you come here to do? What is it that more than any other thing you do in life, brings you deep satisfaction? When you can answer this basic life question, you will have discovered your life purpose. The reason you were born. The person you were meant to be.
  • Question #2 – How would you use the answer to question #1 to add value to the lives of others?

The moment you can answer those two questions, your ego will no longer need to fear boredom, and what you “do” in your life from that moment on will give your ego the self-identity it has been so frantically searching to discover. Your life may still be busy and filled with creative “doing”, but the “doing” will be deeply satisfying; not stressful.

Your “true self” will be so busy creating meaning in your life, your “ego self” will no longer have the need to fill your life with mindless cognitive overload.

And boredom will no longer be a feeling your ego will have time to worry about.

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2 Responses to What To Do If You’re In Cognitive Overload – Insights from the Wilderness #204

  1. Imkelina July 24, 2014 at 7:31 am #

    I feel that when I get into cognitive overload I next go into shut down mode! What has helped me is to not only ask the questions such as those you mentioned, but also to give myself the time and space in silence and solitude to just breath and BE!

    • Dick Rauscher July 24, 2014 at 7:50 am #

      I find that taking a long walk helps me get back into process mode…..and out of deadline/schedule mode. I tend to get too many interesting things on my to-do list. :-))
      Thanks for the feedback on the article.

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